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Cheltenham Festival

Magnificent Min To Shock Altior In Thrilling Queen Mother Champion Chase At 2019 Cheltenham Festival

Wednesday 6th March 2019
Min is set to give Altior a stunning battle in the Champion Chase
Min is set to give Altior a stunning battle in the Champion Chase

Unbeaten over fences, Altior will head to the 2019 Cheltenham Festival as the banker of the meeting in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but is the Nicky Henderson-trained star chaser invincible?

Three previous victories at the Prestbury Park extravaganza has seen him catapult into an elite group of modern greats, but could his festival domination come to an end March 13?  It could well be.

Altior Will Need To Be At Electric Best To Retain Champion Chase Crown

Surpassed by Cyrname in the official ratings, Altior fans certainly got the hump when he dropped below the Paul Nicholls-trained horse in the chasing ranks, but has Altior been at his brilliant best this season?  Possibly not.

A gutsy win over Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek Chase on his comeback run maintained Altior's unbeaten record over the larger obstacles, but while he may have pulled four lengths clear at the end in rain-softened conditions the Seven Barrows inmate failed to dominate like he has in most of his chase wins and that left some questioning whether he possessed the same pizzazz.

Handed a bunch of minor Graded opponents (Special Tiara past his best) in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas, Altior won easily (19 lengths), while he cruised to a seven-length win over Fox Norton and Diego Du Charmil in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

So, in reality he has only faced one major test this season and that was a race in which he had to work very hard to win, and that showed there could be a chink in his armour.

There's no doubting Altior's brilliance - has a Supreme, Arkle and Champion Chase win on his CV - and he is one of the National Hunt greats of this century, but he gave backers in last year's Champion Chase a few worries as they turned for home, as Nico de Boinville was forced to get to work on the then eight-year-old before he pulled clear in the closing stages.

Entitled to be a short-priced favourite, Altior's 2/5 odds are rather skinny and there could be a much more attractive betting option elsewhere.

Min To Finally Defeat Altior On The Biggest Stage

All form suggests Altior has the measure of Min when both are at their best.  A seven length annihilation of Min in the 2016 Supreme propelled Altior into the limelight, while the Henderson-trained raider franked the form in last year's Champion Chase with another seven length win over Willie Mullins' charge.

However, this season's clash could certainly see a different story.  Mullins has already announced he will leave it late to decide whether Min will head to the Champion Chase or step up in trip for the Ryanair Chase, but with the rain hitting GL50 over the last couple of days then Min is sure to be sent down the Champion Chase route.

A one-and-a-half length win over Shattered Love in the 2m 4f John Durkan on his comeback run saw Min kick off his campaign with a win, but it was over two miles in his last start that saw him show his marvellous best.  A facile six-length win over Ordinary World in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown showed Min in red-hot form, as he travelled smoothly through the race and pulled clear of the field to prevail and could have won by a lot further.

Yes, it wasn't the hottest Grade 1 seen this season, but the manner in which Ruby Walsh just cajoled him into the race before pulling clear showed the tactics that should be adopted at Cheltenham next week.

Walsh is the king of the patient ride, and Min showed last season when tanking past Altior down the hill that he has a sensational cruising speed.  However, last season he just found himself on the speed a little early and Altior's stamina saw him kick clear up the hill.  If Saint Calvados is sent out in front from the flag fall then there could be a decent pace to run at, and if Walsh can just bide his time on board Min then he could well come up on Altior's blindside, and if he can just give enough under Walsh then could prevail narrowly.

Betting Min without Altior is a cracking wager, but Min could finally inflict Altior's first defeat over fence, if he can build on a fine win on Irish soil last time out.

Best Of The Rest

With many of the Champion Chase entries holding a place in the Ryanair as well, it's hard to assess who will line up on March 13, but if Min is sent down the two-mile route then it could see last year's Arkle hero Footpad sent to the Ryanair, but even if he takes his chance in the Wednesday showpiece he won't have the measure of his stablemate.

Alan King's Sceau Royal won the Shloer Chase earlier in the season, but failed to fire over hurdles last time out in the Kingwell Hurdle, and it's hard to see him playing a prominent role at the finish, while the above-mentioned Saint Calvados struggles at the very highest level, and could be used by his rivals as the pacemaker.

Ordinary World, Simply Ned and God's Own are another trio that could take their chance, but that triumvirate have always seemed to have found a few too good for them at the highest level at Cheltenham, so can't figure against Min and Altior.

With potentially five to eight runners, then the each-way markets may offer little value, but if Min can produce a career best then he could finally inflict Altior's first defeat over fences, and he must be the value play against the jolly.

Cheltenham Odds

2019 Queen Mother Champion Chase Odds

Altior Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson 2/5 2/5 4/9 2/5 2/5 2/5 2/5 4/9
Min R Walsh / W P Mullins 10/3 7/2 7/2 7/2 7/2 7/2 7/2 100/30
Sceau Royal D A Jacob / A King 20 16 20 20 20 18 22 20
Politologue Harry Cobden / P F Nicholls 22 20 22 22 22 22 22 20
Castlegrace Paddy D N Russell / P A Fahy 25 28 28 28 28 28 28 28
Gods Own P J Brennan / T R George 33 33 33 33 33 33 35 33
Hells Kitchen B J Geraghty / H Fry 40 28 40 28 40 33 40 33
Saint Calvados G Sheehan / H Whittington 40 40 40 40 40 40 50 40
Ordinary World Rachael Blackmore / H de Bromhead 50 50 50 50 50 50 55 50
Each Way Terms 3
1/5
3
1/5
- 3
1/5
3
1/5
3
1/5
3
1/5
3
1/5

2019 Queen Mother Champion Chase Odds

BEST ODDS
1. Altior Nico de Boinville / N J Henderson
4/9
FREE BET ODDS
4/9
2/5
2/5
2/5
2/5
2/5
2/5
2. Min R Walsh / W P Mullins
7/2
FREE BET ODDS
7/2
7/2
7/2
7/2
7/2
10/3
3. Sceau Royal D A Jacob / A King
22
FREE BET ODDS
22
20
20
20
20
20
18
16
4. Politologue Harry Cobden / P F Nicholls
22
FREE BET ODDS
22
22
22
22
22
22
20
20
5. Castlegrace Paddy D N Russell / P A Fahy
28
FREE BET ODDS
28
28
28
28
28
28
28
25
6. Gods Own P J Brennan / T R George
35
FREE BET ODDS
35
33
33
33
33
33
33
33
7. Hells Kitchen B J Geraghty / H Fry
40
FREE BET ODDS
40
40
40
40
33
33
28
28
8. Saint Calvados G Sheehan / H Whittington
50
FREE BET ODDS
50
40
40
40
40
40
40
40
9. Ordinary World Rachael Blackmore / H de Bromhead
55
FREE BET ODDS
55
50
50
50
50
50
50
50
Odds correct as of 11th Apr, 13:27 . Odds are subject to change.
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